London

Rohan Pershad QC trial: Barrister's VAT debt dated back to 1999

A senior barrister who specialises in fraud cases has been found guilty of failing to pay £600,000 in VAT.

Rohan Pershad QC, 44, had denied cheating the public revenue to pocket the cash over a 12-year period, saying he was "extremely poor at paperwork".

Blackfriars Crown Court heard Pershad, of Hammersmith, west London, stopped paying tax in 1999.

Prosecutors said he had bought two properties in Somerset and Surrey for a total of £1.5m with the money.

The lawyer, who specialised in financial disputes, professional negligence and insurance cases, had told the court he was not motivated by money and that he believed his legal chambers paid his VAT.

'Blatant theft'

After he dropped off the VAT register through non-payment, he was officially classified as a "missing trader", but continued to work.

In the trial, jurors were told most barristers are self-employed and were legally required to pay their own VAT.

The prosecution said he knew what his legal responsibilities were.

Donald Toon, director of criminal investigation at HMRC, said: "Pershad's 12-year history of tax evasion was blatant theft from the public purse.

"He thought he was above the law, but someone in his profession should have known better than to try to cheat the system, as HMRC will not stand by while criminals try to cheat the taxpayer."

Pershad is due to be sentenced on 26 February.

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